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Global trove of rare earth metals found in Japan’s deep-sea mud

“semi-infinite” supply of rare earth metals used in batteries, electric vehicles, and other green energy technologies has been found in deep-sea mud about 1850 kilometers southeast of Tokyo, The Wall Street Journal reports. Japanese researchers estimate the roughly 2499-square-kilometer region of seabed holds more than 16 million tons of rare earth oxides, including 780 years worth of the global supply of yttrium, 620 years worth of europium, 420 years worth of terbium, and 730 years worth of dysprosium, they write this week in Scientific Reports. The find could challenge China’s dominance on the rare earths’ world market, but extracting such metals from seabed sludge is expensive and difficult; scientists say it could take up to 5 years to figure out the best method.

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